Java Assertion

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Assertion facility is added in J2SE 1.4. In order to support this facility J2SE 1.4 added the keyword assert to the language, and AssertionError class.

An assertion checks a boolean-typed expression that must be true during program runtime execution. The assertion facility can be enabled or disabled at runtime.

Declaring Assertion

Assertion statements have two forms as given below:

assert expression;
assert expression1 : expression2;

The first form is a simple form of assertion, while the second form takes another expression. In both of the forms boolean expression represents a condition that must be evaluated to true runtime.

If the condition evaluates to false and assertions are enabled, AssertionError will be thrown at runtime.

Some examples that use simple assertion form are as follows.

assert value > 5 ;
assert accontBalance > 0;
assert isStatusEnabled();

The expression that has to be an asserted runtime must be a boolean value. In the third example isStatusEnabled() must return a boolean value. If the condition evaluates to true, execution continues normally, otherwise the AssertionError is thrown.

Following program uses simple form of assertion

Class AssertionDemo{

      Public static void main(String args[]){

           System.out.println( withdrawMoney(1000,500) );
           System.out.println( withdrawMoney(1000,2000) );


      public double withdrawMoney(double balance , double amount){

           assert balance >= amount;
           return balance - amount;


In the above given example, main method calls withdrawMoney method with balance and amount as arguments. The withdrawMoney method has an assert statement that checks whether the balance is greater than or equal to the amount to be withdrawn. In first call the method will execute without any exception, but in second call it AssertionError is thrown if the assertion is enabled at runtime.

Enabling Assertion

By default assertion are not enabled, but compiler complains if assert is used as an identifier or label. The following command will compile AssertionDemo with assertion enabled.

javac -source 1.4 AssertionDemo.java

The resulting AssertionDemo class file will contain assertion code.

By default assertion are disabled in the Java runtime environment. The argument -eanbleassertion or -ea will enable assertion, while -disableassertion or -da will disable assertions at runtime.

The following command will run AssertionDemo with assertion enabled.

Java -ea AssertionDemo


Java -enableassertion AssertionDemo

Second form of Assertion

The second for of assertion takes another expression as an argument.

The syntax is,

assert expression1 : expression2;

where expression1 is the condition and must evaluate to true at runtime.

This statement is equivalent to

assert expression1 : throw new AssertionError(expression2);

Note: AssertionError is an unchecked exception, because it is inherited fromError class.

Here, expression2 must evaluate to some value.

By default AssertionError doesn’t provide a useful message so this form can be helpful to display some informative messages to the user.

Rahim Vindhani,
IBM Global Services,
Pune, India.


View their website at: http://www.javadeveloper.co.in

Java Assertion
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